Home Farm Equipment Beef-dairy crosses growing, but questions remain

Beef-dairy crosses growing, but questions remain


Utilizing beef semen in dairy cattle is nothing new. Dairy farmers have been doing this for a very long time. But with 2.5 million crossbred calves now getting into the meat provide chain — out of a complete 26 million fats cattle killed per 12 months — it raises a number of questions concerning the worth of those animals and the alternatives producers must money in.

“That’s 10% of our industry wrapped up in these crossbred beef-on-dairy calves that we’re still somewhat uncertain about, and that’s a question we have to answer,” says Tara Felix, Extension beef specialist with Penn State.

For the previous 5 years, Penn State, together with the Pennsylvania beef working group — comprised of Pennsylvania Cattlemen’s Affiliation, Heart for Beef Excellence, Cooperative Extension, choose beef producers and others — has been researching methods to extend the financial worth of the Holstein steer because it’s fed for beef manufacturing to learn each beef and dairy producers.

They’ve shifted gears and began specializing in the usage of implants to extend price of acquire and feed effectivity, and to concentrate on beef processing and forage for these steers.

Final 12 months, they shifted gears once more and began taking a look at matching applicable beef sire breeds with dairy cows. It’s a three-year mission, funded via USDA, that Felix says doesn’t have any solutions but, but contemplating the massive enhance in beef semen straws the previous couple of years, the mission has a number of relevance.

Semen gross sales approach up

In 2018, printed beef breeding statistics confirmed a 56% enhance within the sale of beef semen straws from 2017 to 2018, and a 250% enhance in beef semen straws via immediately, Felix says. Traditionally, the sale of beef semen has held regular but hasn’t proven massive will increase 12 months over 12 months.

That’s as a result of most beef breeding, particularly within the Midwest and West, is completed via pure service. The exception is in dairy the place AI is broadly used.

“Most of the increase in beef semen has been attributed to the dairy industry,” Felix says. “As a result of those breeding decisions on dairy dams, we’ve seen a number of crossbred beef dairy, beef sire on dairy dam, come in on beef production supply chains.”

Angus king, different breeds rising

By way of beef sires, Angus is the most well-liked breed and has the most well-liked sires. However the trial additionally contains Simmental and SimAngus sires, a big level on condition that Holstein Affiliation USA and the American Simmental Affiliation have partnered to develop the HolSim branded beef program.

Different “off breed” beef breeds are additionally gaining in recognition. For instance, Charolais beef semen gross sales have elevated 270% the previous couple of years, Felix says.

The main target of the analysis, she says, is to search out traits within the dairy animal that may be improved by breeding a beef sire to it, creating extra worth for a dairy producer.

LOTS OF QUESTIONS: Crossbred beef-dairy calves are getting into the meat provide chain. But what are fascinating traits that needs to be bred to dairy cattle, and can these calves be enticing to the packers that market them?

“First and foremost, we know that dairy cows are what we call a flat muscle breed,” Felix says. “So when we look at their rib-eye steaks, they look like a strip-loin steak, long and narrow, whereas when we look at a steak from an Angus animal, it’s a nice, round steak, and that’s what we want from a beef animal. That’s what the consumer desires from a beef animal.”

Rising the quantity of meat from a single animal can be necessary, she says. Whereas a local beef steer expects to decorate out at 62% of stay weight, about 45% of that will likely be saleable crimson meat. Holstein steers costume out at even decrease percentages, and their saleable crimson meat can be decrease.

“What we’re trying to do is by using a beef breed, can we get more saleable red meat out of that Holstein’s progeny?” Felix says. “And then, which breeds should we use and then within that breed, the ideal sire, because we know there are certain sires that bring different traits.”

Retaining packers joyful

You additionally should contemplate the packer, Felix says, and whether or not these crossbred beef-dairy progenies will yield one thing a packer finds fascinating.

“The beef production system in the U.S., for better or worse, functions on a commodity-style system, boxed beef. And it has to fit in that box for it to be shipped. So there are certain ranges and sizes of muscle desired for that boxed-beef system,” she says. “They’ve a boxed-beef system for native cattle and Holstein cattle, and now we now have to determine the place these crossbreeds slot in as a result of that may decide their worth within the worth chain.

“That commodity boxed-beef system deals in uniformity,” Felix provides. “We are taking that Holstein steer, which has about 3% genetic variation, and introducing a lot of different sires and a lot of different breeds and introducing quite a bit of variation, and that’s something that we are still working on.”

Proper now, the economics of the system, she says, favors the dairy producer as a result of despite the fact that calves promote for fairly a bit greater than Holstein steers, the manufacturing prices and sale value factors are comparable.

“So the question remains, are they so much more efficient that the efficiency decreases days on feed and pays or does the upcharge you see on the calf pay? These questions still have to be answered,” Felix says.


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